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The Footlight Club is the oldest continuously-running community theatre group in the United States of America, having performed every year since 1877. It is a non-profit organization, incorporated as such in 1927.
Based in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, the club currently owns and resides in historic Eliot Hall, which its members purchased in 1889 to provide a home for performances and save the building from demolition.
It currently produces five main shows each season, including one fundraiser, and also hosts member-produced performances under the 7A Series banner, named after the club’s address at 7A Eliot Street.
Nestled in a residential area near Jamaica Pond, The Footlight Club, America's oldest community theatre, has performed every year since 1877. For over a century Footlight Club members have sustained the organization's mission:
To present the best in non-professional theater to a broad-based audience,
and to preserve and maintain Eliot Hall as a community resource.
Increased membership and audience sizes are evidence that The Footlight Club maintains its place among the sisterhood of community theatres.
Founded by an energetic group of young socialites, The Footlight Club has evolved along with its neighborhood. Once, wealthy aristocrats arrived in coaches to enjoy the society of their own kind in an atmosphere of gentility and wealth. The performances sometimes seemed secondary to the social function.
Today the Footlight Club draws its membership from Jamaica Plain and surrounding Boston neighborhoods and communities. Members and guests range in age from children to senior citizens and come from every social economic stratum. Doctors and lawyers, waiters and cooks, husbands and wives, parents and children come together to perform, to enjoy, and to support the exciting amateur productions and activities that make up live theater.
The Footlight Club, through its long history, has held to high standards of creative excellence, working to provide high quality amateur entertainment at affordable prices by using the talents and creative energies of the people in its community. The Footlight Club is a training ground for theater professionals from throughout eastern Massachusetts. Generations of families, neighbors, and friends participate, attend, learn from, and enjoy the Club's welcoming atmosphere and solid productions. Although an amateur theater, The Footlight's productions are never amateurish.
While the Footlight Club's members never aspired to attain professional recognition, the Club has been an innovative force in the Boston Theater scene for many years. Between 1929 and 1939, the Footlight Club presented 15 Boston theatrical premieres, three of which were American premieres as well. What is done in Eliot Hall is exciting, rewarding, and creative. Young and old alike continue to discover The Footlight Club and make it an exciting place to practice theater.
The Footlight Club provides opportunities for members who range in age from children to seniors to work as a team to produce vibrant, quality theater. Serious, accomplished performers combine with creative, experienced directors and producers. Supported by devoted and capable back stage help, they turn Eliot Hall into The Footlight Club on show nights, and all the wonder and magic that is theater is born. What The Footlight does in that building is exciting, rewarding, and creative.
In addition to its full season of plays and musicals, The Footlight Club is committed to preserving Eliot Hall, this a resource which is so much a part of its community. The Hall, is undergoing a long-term renovation as its members and friends in the community return it to its former magnificence.
The Footlight Club's Historical Program Collection
The Footlight Club's historian, Paul Campbell, joined forces with The Boston Public Library to gather an amazing collection of historic Footlight programs going back to the 1800s and make them accessible online. Scanned in high-resolution images and searchable, this wonderful archive is available free of charge at BPL Footlight Club Program Archive.
- "Community Theatre History - From the Top - History of community theatre in america". American Association of Community Theatre (AACT). Retrieved 2015-10-13.